Ray Davies The Kinks Choral Collection Review

Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Never have so many been given so little to do.

Sid Smith 2009

Following up on their first collaboration at 2007's Electric Proms, Davies and the 65-strong Crouch End Festival Chorus have gotten together once again to record a cross section of some of The Kinks most celebrated and enduringly popular songs.

Revisiting such an auspicious back catalogue is fine in theory. In practice however, whilst Davies and his backing band are on top form, the addition of the Chorus brings very little to the table.

Whilst many a choral score is capable of bringing widescreen vistas into the pokiest of material, the arrangements by David Temple, Steve Marwick and Davies himself, are myopic, lacking in ambition. Never have so many been given so little to do. Cast very much in SingalongaRay mode, they are largely reduced to oohing and ahhing in a way that is as obvious as it is dull.

The Kinks' 1968 album, The Village Green Preservation Society, has six tracks welded into the Village Green Medley and whilst the tunes themselves remain some of Davies' best work, the choral embellishments ultimately drag rather than lift. This is especially true of the rockier numbers. The famously graphic intensity of All Day And All Of The Night is neutered by the Chorus, who reduce the demotic urgency of the original into little more than a polite request.

Occasionally it works out nicely: Days is re-cast in an agreeably ethereal light and an a cappella See My Friends has a chilled spectral edge. But as Davies shrewdly observed in Celluloid Heroes, ''Success walks with hand in hand with failure''.

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